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The Bicycle Book Hardcover – 31 Mar 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (31 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007305885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007305889
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 537,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Drat and double drat. I had an idea for a money-making venture. I would write a quick book in praise of cycling... Curses, curses, when I find Bella Bathurst has blown me out of the water with her Bicycle Book, and she has done it beautifully...In Bella Bathurst the bike has found the best and brightest booster so far."--Boris Johnson, Mail on Sunday

"[Bella has a] sharp eye...[and] elegant prose: like a tail wind pressing on your back, it propels the reader through the pages... With The Bicycle Book Bathurst adds her voice to the call that we are now at the dawn of a new golden age of this versatile machine."--Robert Penn, The Observer

"...everything you ever wanted to know about the bike, its history and use"--Sunday Times

"...filling a yawning gap in the market... Bathurst is an ideal observer: someone who is interested in finding out, not showing off. Someone with a keen eye for the ridiculous, but who isn’t supercilious"--Scotsman

"Her joyful freewheel through the world of bicycles and the people who ride them not only affirms her as an elegant chronicler of quirky subjects, but fills a gap in the pantheon of cycling literature... The Bicycle Book is unique in appealing to both cycling nuts and those of us who mean to dust off the flat-tyred two-wheeler"--The Economist

From the Back Cover

Two wheels. A frame. Two pedals. What could be simpler than a bicycle?

And yet the bike – old, and cheap, and slightly comic – continues to inspire a passionate following. Since the millennium its use in Britain has doubled, and then doubled again. Thousands now cycle to work, and more take it up every day. In trial after trial, it is the bike which reaches its urban destination faster than the car, the bus, the underground or the pedestrian. Self-reliant and straightforward, cycling has recycled itself. It is an antiquated idea, and its time has finally come.

But what is it about the bicycle that so enchants us? And why do its devotees become so obsessed with it?

Acclaimed author Bella Bathurst takes us on a journey through cycling's best stories and strangest incarnations, from the bicycle as weapon of twentieth-century warfare to the secret life of couriers and the alchemy of framebuilding. With a cast of characters including the woman who watercycled across the Channel, the man who raced India’s Deccan Queen train and several of today’s top cyclists, she offers us a brilliantly engaging portrait of cycling’s past, present and world-conquering future.

The result is a story of passion and obsession, of exultation, endeavour, and risk. Above all, it is the story of partnership between man and machine, perfectly balanced – a story of love and souplesse.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Cycling books seem to be pouring out just now, but this one stands out from the crowd. Bella Bathurst has pulled of a rare trick. Her panoramic view of all things two wheeled digs deep into the cycling tribes but also offers a window into the world of lycra for the bemused or curious. In taking such a balanced and well-researched view she liberates cycling and the cycling book from the ghetto of the male enthusiast. The extended interviews with a host of cycling characters go much further than the PR-fed fare in magazines and newspapers. Some offer searingly frank insights into the physical and psychological effects of racing to the limit. There is also a good sprinkling of quirky history plus a useful glossary and weblinks for follow-up. In short a book written with what cyclists call 'souplesse' - grace, harmony and flow. Chapeau!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is full of interesting snippets. I'm a fifty something year old who has recently rediscovered the joy of cycling, along with my wife. I read this cover to cover on a long haul flight and couldn't put it down. It covers a wide range of topics in sufficient detail to give a useful overview. For example, although I have watched the Tour de France on tv on and off, I hadn't really understood the tactics and the background. I especially liked the chapter on how to ride in a city - every word of it resonated with my experiences. But the very best was the section describing different types of cyclists and their attitudes. This book is on my list to give to both of my adult children who also cycle (and who fit two of the types described in the book). I'm sure I'll re-read it.
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Format: Hardcover
Received this book for Christmas and it is quite simply brilliant.

Whatever your cycling interest you will find something here for you. Every chapter had flawless writing. If you want a gift for a cycling friend or family member then this is the book to get. They won't stop thanking you for it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating study of bicycles and their builders, plus the widely varying types of people who ride them whether for pleasure (or danger!), transport or professionally. It is full of interesting detail, and not without some humorous glimpses into the sometimes bizarre world of bike riding.
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Format: Hardcover
I am reading this book because of a favourable review I read in the Sunday Times. The writing is pacey and gossipy, but talks about lots of interesting things. I have turned down dozens of page corners so I can look things up afterward I have finished.

I also like the fact that, despite its basic purpose of advertising two-wheeled travel, the book includes the downsides. In my opinion, the author is very likeable
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Format: Paperback
As someone who likes good writing and books, this annoyed me greatly. Firstly, the prose is a bit annoying, but that is the least of the worries. The book is basically a series of unlinked annecdotes about bikes and cycling, there is no connecting threads. If you want someone who can tell a bigger story through a series of annecdotes, and who can actually write, see Rob Penn's bike book. If you want someone who can tell a heart wrenching story about cycling, and who can actually write, see Obree's autobiography or Krabbe's "The Rider"(Obree is someone who features in this book, but you get the feeling that Bathurst only found out who he was in the preparation for the book. This is a consistent theme - the author seems a bit ignorant about cycling and bikes, and seemed to have only written it because they have become fashionable in recent years, not because they have a passion for it). Finally, it is littered with factual innacuracies - she confuses chainring and cassette (in the glossary of all places), she claims the heritage of cyclocross is in mountain biking, not road cycling, and so on.

If you want a good book about bikes, which is well written with knowledge about the subject, look for any of those mentioned in my review, but don't look here
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I like “The Lighthouse Stevensons” written by the same author and I thought that was excellent. I was expecting the same sort of interesting book but I was deeply disappointed.

The book is reads like a series of Sunday Newspaper Magazine article thrown together. I found it very disjointed, not much of a thread linking things. There is a lot of filler padding chapters out, for instance we have a bit on London bicycle couriers and then a rather similar bit on Glasgow bicycle couriers. There is also the not unsurprising fact that cabbies do not like the couriers and vice versa, with interviews of cab drivers to pad things out a bit more.

I really struggled to finish some chapters. I did eventually finish the book but it took me several goes. I was just skimming that last few chapters trying to find interesting bits. I wouldn't recommend it. There must be better cycling books out there.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a well written, entertaining and light hearted look at cycling. The books structure takes the reader through frame and design, styles of riding and dress, types of bike and the various historic and geographic influences on the bicycle and our love of it. This isn't a 'technical' manual for cycling better or faster, but rather, it is a meander through our long-term love affair with the bicycle and an exposition of the joy that it brings wherever, whenever and whatever it's form.

A highly entertaining read for cycling enthusiast and those with a causal interest alike.
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